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The one 'destination' restaurant in NYC...

Hello,

My friend and I will be in NYC this weekend. I have been a handful of times (grew up in Wellesley/ Boston area). I am asking that if you could pick *one* destination restaurant in NYC - one restaurant to go to, which would it be? I am having sensory overload thinking of the places I have heard of but have not been (e.g., Spotted Pig, Harvest, Union Square Cafe) and places that I have been (Le Bernadin, Babbo, Del Posto (Mario Batali admirer)) - neither of which is helping me pick the "one" place to go.

Price range - flexible, if the total bill is under $200, that will be ok. (Though if over, if its that good, no worries either).
Cuisine - totally open. I would be happy with a pricey place, or a hole in the wall, if its that good. Coming from Boston, I would say there are handful of both types of places one should try.

We are staying at a hotel across from Rockefeller center. (for location if that matters). Understood that NYC is a destination city for dining, but what if you had to distill that down to one place?

Thank you in advance!

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Babbo
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

Spotted Pig
314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

Del Posto
85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

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  1. Your request is too broad. What is your top budget? Basically you are asking for any price, any cuisine, any level of formality. There are too many restaurants in NYC for such a broad request.

    1. The "one" destination restaurant in NYC, whichever it may be, is almost certainly already booked for this weekend.

      1. Regarding your budget, is $200 total bill for two people? I assume the $200 is the budget for your "out-of-door" price including food, alcohol, tax, and tips? How much do you guys drink?

        It'd be easier if you can give a budget per person on food only, before drinks, tax, and tip.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Cheeryvisage

          How about this - I don't drink, but my friend, if he does, might only have one drink. How about per meal, minus tax and tip - 100/person.

          Top budget, per person, should not be over 200, excluding tip, tax.

        2. First off, I wouldn't consider Spotted Pig or Union Square Cafe among the top tier. Good restaurants, but certainly not "I'm only in town for one night" restaurants. Nothing particularly adventurous about either. I have no idea what Harvest is. Did you mean Hearth?

          As was pointed out, any -ONE- destination restaurant (as if it could be distilled down to ONE) is bound to be booked for this weekend. Also, you should tell us which night you're talking about - Friday, Saturday?

          That said, there are some VERY GOOD restaurants - some top-notch - with openings this weekend:

          Aquavit (my most recent review here: http://www.chow.com/topics/810271
          )Bouley (if you want to dine late)
          Brushstroke (admittedly haven't been yet, but everyone here who has whose opinion I trust seems to have enjoyed it)
          Cafe Boulud
          Corton (if you want to dine early)
          Daniel (not the biggest fan personally, but YMMV)
          Del Posto (if you want to do a repeat, I imagine the menu's totally different aside from from some perennial standards)
          Jean Georges
          Marc Forgione
          SHO Shaun Hergatt
          Soto

          Obviously, many of them (particularly the four-starrers) are going to handily break $200 before you've even added a drink, let alone tax or tip.

          That aside, two in particular - Aquavit and SHO - are currently offering very big bang for the buck, IMHO. Both are in the 80s for their prixe fixe, but both offer more than the standard three-course deal (Aquavit 4, SHO 5) - and even though I consider both of them an excellent deal to start, as an added bonus both are on Savored.com, where for $10 you can get a 30% discount on your meal. Don't know if either have tables for this weekend - they only set aside a certain number for Savored, so sometimes (especially on the weekends) they'll sell out. Best to book early in the week if possible, as usually by Thursday everything will have been grabbed for the weekend. Of the two, I'm not particularly fond of either location as far as having anything to do before/after dinner goes - one's in boring Midtown, the other in the boring Financial District - but that said, Aquavit is within walking distance of your hotel, so if you do a late dinner you can stumble right to bed.

          Also always a good option: get in line at Momofuku Ssam Bar. The wait for a two-top shouldn't be extraordinarily long, if your'e fine with dining at the bar. Another great place for bar dining with no rezzie is WD-50 - controversial, sure, but certainly a place every "foodie" should visit once so they can decide for themself. If you're to go the WD route, go early or have a backup plan - the bar area is small, so there might be a longer wait.

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          WD-50
          50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

          Aquavit
          65 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022

          Cafe Boulud
          20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

          Soto
          357 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10014

          Momofuku Ssam Bar
          207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

          Jean Georges
          1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

          Spotted Pig
          314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

          Del Posto
          85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

          Union Square Cafe
          21 East 16th St., New York, NY 10003

          Marc Forgione
          134 Reade Street, New York, NY 10013

          Corton
          239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

          SHO Shaun Hergatt
          40 Broad St, New York, NY 10004

          Bouley
          163 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

          Brushstroke
          30 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

          2 Replies
          1. re: sgordon

            I'd say Per Se and Masa but they're not in your budget range.
            Daniel/Bouley/Jean Georges/Gramercy Tavern/EMP
            Oldies but goodies 21 Club/Four Seasons/Keen's/Delmonico's

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            Per Se
            10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

            Eleven Madison Park
            11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

            Gramercy Tavern
            42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

            Keens
            72 West 36th St., New York, NY 10018

            21 Club
            21 West 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019

            Jean Georges
            1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

            Delmonico's
            56 Beaver Street, New York, NY 10004

            The Four Seasons
            99 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

            Bouley
            163 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

            Masa
            10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

            1. re: sgordon

              no love for Le Bernardin?

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              Le Bernardin
              155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

            2. Just throwing this out there because there has been so much chatter about how wonderful it is (I have not gotten there yet): JUNGSIK. Right now they are showing availability for Saturday evening.

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              Jung Sik
              2 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013

              2 Replies
              1. re: Spiritchaser

                Thank you everyone. This would have been for Friday night - I have reservations for Saturday Le Bernadin - so definitely love for Le Bernadin.

                I was thinking about Per Se, understood its not in my budget, but you're right that it just might come down to where I can get a reservation. I thought about this last minute (like, this morning) realizing that I don't get to take much vacation due to work, and if I am already going to be in NYC for the weekeng, might as well try to capitalize on the time. Needless to say, if I don't come up with anything Friday, I can only blame myself. Maybe I will just try some food truck, which is my new habit when I visit Boston. (For anyone who might be visiting, I am a fan of the clover food truck@ various locations in Boston. I think they also have a restauant).

                I will look into JUNGSIK. I was thinking about Momofuku Ssam Bar as well. We shall see how the weekend goes...

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                Le Bernardin
                155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

                1. re: Lucky Basil

                  I definitely agree with Jungsik (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/815513). In fact, I enjoyed my meal so much that I think I will return there for my birthday in a month and a half.

              2. Given your budget listed below Per Se is out of the question and EMP is undoubtedly booked full while Roberta's does not do their tasting menu on weekends. Babbo as a walkin could be considerable, but I think there is better pasta to be had in New York.

                That noted, if you want something "classic New York" I'd strongly recommmend Daniel but if you want the best meal money can buy (and a reservation a bit easier to get) at the $200 price range Corton is the answer.

                http://endoedibles.com

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                Per Se
                10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                Babbo
                110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                Corton
                239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013